More than $1.8 million will soon be flowing into Michigan to support the state’s specialty crop growers who produce fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, nursery plants and flowers.
The USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program will award over $1.8 million to support 19 projects throughout the state, according to a recent announcement by U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
“Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables are not only a source of great pride, they are also critical to our state’s diverse agricultural economy” says Stabenow. “This new support will help Michigan farmers get their products off the farm and onto our plates.”
Each of the 19 projects are targeted to help specialty crop growers sell more products locally and globally, protect crops from pests and diseases, and market products to be competitive.
Grant recipients include the Cherry Marketing Institute, Michigan Apple Committee, Grow Eastern Market, Michigan Carrot Committee, Michigan Vegetable Council and Michigan Wine Collaborative, among others. For a complete list of Michigan projects receiving support, visit USDA's website here.
In 2008, Stabenow wrote the first ever fruits and vegetables section of a farm bill to provide support for so-called "specialty crops," which includes fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, nursery products and floriculture. These crops are critical to the state's diverse agricultural economy, as Michigan leads the nation in producing a wider variety of crops than any state other than California.
“Support for specialty crop producers has been a top priority of mine in the farm bill,” Stabenow says. “I will continue to make sure that Michigan families have better access to healthy, locally grown food, and support our farmers with the tools they need to succeed.”
Before 2008, farm bills focused largely on traditional commodity crops and had no section dedicated to fruits and vegetables. The 2014 Farm Bill strengthens support for specialty crops and makes major investments in organic crops and local and regional food systems.